Monday, 13 October 2008

Carol Birch - "Scapegallows"

Publ: 2008 ISBN: 184408390X
Rating: *****

My first five star book for a while. Written in the first person and based on the true life of Margaret Catchpole (born 1762) - a woman transported to Australia after twice escaping the gallows. Facing death for a third time, stuck in a tree as floodwater rises around her - she reminisces on her life back 'home' in England. A life involving her family, her positions as nursemaid and cook, and smuggling. A brilliant tale made totally credible by the historical background and Carol Birch's excellent writing. I was very impressed. Looking forward to reading my next Carol Birch novel and wondering it it can live up to this high standard.

CAROL BIRCH was born in 1951 in Manchester and went to Keele University. She has lived in London, southwest Ireland and now Lancaster. For her first novel, Life in the Palace, she won the 1988 David Higham Award for the Best First Novel of the Year. In 1991 she won the prestigious Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize with The Fog Line.

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